On a frosty day in January 2006 the police in Sweden make a gruesome discovery. 19 people were found hacked to death in a little village. The police suspect a maniac behind the bestial act. When Judge Birgitta Roslin hears about the crime she immediately knows that her parents are among the victims. Still more: all the murder victims were related to her in some way or another. She realizes that the police are on the wrong track and starts investigating on her own. Her search takes her all the way to Beijing where she hits upon the unscrupulous machinations of the ruling elite. She also uncovers murders from over 160 years ago which seem to be connected to the psychopath mass murderer and her own family.